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Grade Sensitivity and the Economics Major at a Women's College


  • Patrick J. McEwan
  • Sheridan Rogers
  • Akila Weerapana


We use a regression discontinuity design to estimate the causal effect of letter grades in introductory courses on the probability of choosing an economics major at Wellesley College, a highly selective women's college. We find that women just above letter-grade cutoffs are 18 percentage points more likely to major in economics than women just below, a 50 percent increase. The effects are larger among financial aid recipients. Grade sensitivity among women is not explained by the presence of male students or instructors; it is more plausibly explained by lower precollege preferences for the major and gender-specific responses to noisy signals like grades.

Suggested Citation

  • Patrick J. McEwan & Sheridan Rogers & Akila Weerapana, 2021. "Grade Sensitivity and the Economics Major at a Women's College," AEA Papers and Proceedings, American Economic Association, vol. 111, pages 102-106, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:apandp:v:111:y:2021:p:102-06
    DOI: 10.1257/pandp.20211045

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    Cited by:

    1. Grace Eau & Derek Hoodin & Tareena Musaddiq, 2022. "Testing the effects of adaptive learning courseware on student performance: An experimental approach," Southern Economic Journal, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 88(3), pages 1086-1118, January.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • A22 - General Economics and Teaching - - Economic Education and Teaching of Economics - - - Undergraduate
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination


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